By Tony Attwood
It used to be that the laws governing football would change once in a blue moon, and then only if the moon was the right shade of blue and San Marino didn’t appeal.. But now it seems tinkering is the order of the day.
For the talk is that the rule allowing teams to make five substitutions which was introduced just to help players get through playing in the summer heat (!) of the extended Premier League season is going to be used next season as well to help players keep warm in the depths of the winter cold.
Rule and law changes in football are complicated issues and have to be agreed by The International Football Association Board (IFAB). It was formed in 1886, and it, not Fifa, controls what the laws of the game are. The Board consists of two groups of four. One group represents the British Isles with representatives from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, (in deference to the game having started on our countryside) and the other being four representatives of Fifa (in deference to their universal engagement with corruption).
Any change in the rules needs six votes to get through, and the changes made can be one year experiments or as permanent changes.
Once upon a time the rule changes were enormous and had gigantic impacts – such as when the offside rule was changed from three players behind the ball to two. The following season mega-scores were as common members of the House of Lords who never paid any tax.
The current debate relates to the number of substitutes that can be used, and the Athletic is reporting that the new arrangements that were brought in as a result of the pandemic, should continue through the 2020/21 season.
Chris Wilder of Sheffield United is said to be leading the opposition to the extension of the new arrangements arguing that this is simply a way of helping the bigger clubs with stronger squads. The point is made that clubs with bigger squads can then rest their players more often, knowing that if the game goes against them, they can bring on these players who were omitted as a group of three in the second half and change the whole match around.
Last time around Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Sheffield United and West Ham voting against the proposal.
Meanwhile in other reports Mustafi – the butt of jokes from many alleged Arsenal fans, has now been getting their praise after another fine performance last night. At least that means the boo-boys have stopped knocking one Arsenal player which is a little step in the right direction.
Unfortunately Arsenal do not have the right to appeal against the refusal of the referee to take action against the mindless thug who knocked Mustafi out.
But of course Arsenal fans need someone to knock – and up to now it has been Bellerin. Except that he put in an excellent performance last night, so that is another player redeemed. The only worry is who the next negative is going to be.
Elsewhere Arsenal youngster Miguel Azeez has not ruled out the possibility of representing Nigeria, where his father was born, in the near future. An England U18 international, the central midfielder is eligible for Spain through his Spanish mother.
Azeez is said to have great ability to strike the ball from distance and so has also become a free-kick specialist.
One rule that isn’t changing is that which allow clubs to appeal against Yellow cards. Arsenal are, as anticipated, appealing Eddie Nketiah red card and hope to learn of decision before game against Tottenham. The argument will be that Eddie didn’t see the player he made contact with and therefore the move was no reckless.
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